Mates Of State has subtitled its new album, Crushes, as a “covers mix-tape,” which sounds about right. It’s more an act of fannish devotion paying tribute to some favorite songs than a proper album itself. That’s true of most covers albums, of course, but Crushes doesn’t feel like the work of a band bringing its A-game—or even one interested in sounding entirely like itself. The album-opening Girls cover “Laura,” for instance, leans more on scratches than the band’s signature sound. Later, there’s a version of Tom Waits’ “Long Way Home,” a soundtrack gem unearthed on Waits’ Orphans collection, that adds an ill-fitting big guitar sound to the usual keyboards and vocals. So maybe Crushes is less a covers album than an experiment to see whether Mates Of State can add some new elements to a winning formula. Call the results inconclusive. It’s nice to hear the husband-and-wife duo stretch out a bit, and it’s clear that they love the material—drawn from acts as far afield as Daniel Johnston and The Mars Volta—but the performances here don’t sound half as inspired on anything on the group’s terrific recent albums. Hopefully this will just be a pleasant, inconsequential interruption before the next one.